The California Energy Commission has awarded nearly $2 million to two state universities for separate research projects meant to create smart grid jobs and help build sustainable communities. The UCLA and Sacramento State are the recipients of the funding from the commission’s Public Interest Energy Research program
UCLA is getting the lion’s share of these recently awarded funds, with $1.9 million going to the school to develop the California Center for Sustainable Communities. The center will be responsible for researching potential energy savings that can come from things like better community design, integrated land use and better transportation practices. The school’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability will lead the center with a multi-campus effort that will bring in UC Berkeley and UC Davis. The center is meant to be a statewide resource for local governments and policy makers looking for the lastest standards for creating sustainable communities.
Another $83,355 will be going to Sacramento State to develop a workforce training and development program for the clean energy jobs that will support California’s smart grid. Those jobs are likely to be wide-reaching in a variety of areas from the transportation industry, to maintaining and installing smart meters. California has a goal to generate a total of 33 percent of its electricity from clean sources by 2020, which means the state will need all the extra workers it can get to help support its smart grid.
The commission’s funding leverages Sacramento State’s $749,992 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act award from the U.S. Department of Energy. The project will identify the smart grid technologies requiring additional workforce training and support. The project will also create a smart grid workforce development model that can be replicated throughout the nation.